INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR OF "THE VOlCE OF ETHIOPIA"
Perceiving the great benefit the Ethiopian people have been able to derive from the
Constitution which Your Majesty has been pleased to grant to them 27 years ago,
and observing the great change and improve ment in the way of life of the people
since then, Your Majesty has been once again pleased to grant the new Revised
Constitution on the Twenty-fifth Coronation Anniversary to suit the politically and
intellectually advanced state of the present generation.
This Revised Constitution has enabled the entire Ethiopian people to have the right
to elect and be elected to Parliament. Consequently, we find today the representatives
of the people performing their duties in Parliament after being elected by secret ballot
in the spirit of the Constitution. Would it please Your Majesty to make known your
views on the significant changes that have come about in the country within these 27
Deeply conscious of the great responsibility conferred on us by God in guiding the
destiny of Our people, and realizing that in order to build their future well-being on more
solid ground and to give a new facade to their way of life no better alternative could be
found than to allow them to participate in the various activities of the State, we have
been pleased to proclaim a Constitution 27 years ago. It is well-known that that
Constitution had opened a new chapter in the long history of the Ethiopian people and
acted as a bridge over which they passed into an era of prosperity and better living
Even though what we planned for Our people in this new chapter of their history had
been interrupted by a cruel invasion and war, Our strong determination has enabled us
to get over the obstacles presented by the war and to patiently lead Our people to the
comparatively high level at which they find themselves today
On the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Our coronation We promulgated the new Revised
Constitution which guarantees to Our people the right to elect and be elected to
Parliament, thereby allowing them to increasingly share with us the difficult task of
government. We felt this necessary in view of the spread of education and the
satisfactory progress made by our people during the last 27 years which was largely the
result of Our personal efforts in Our capacity as Minister of Education. Our future
expectation, therefore, is for Our people to be wise enough to make full and judicious
use of the rights We have granted them and to give us unstinted support and assistance
in everything we do to make Ethiopia great.
Economists of various countries have of late been expressing the view that Ethiopia has
the potential capacity of providing food grains to a 100 million people of the Middle East,
thus predicting that Ethiopia would one day become the virtual granary of this region.
Would it please Your Majesty to express your opinion on this matter?
Undoubtely Ethiopia is a large country whose future potentialities are satisfactory in every
way. Her richness in resources is a fact well-known to us leaving aside the opinion of
experts on the matter. It is in order to exploit this great wealth to the full that we have
introduced modern agricultural techniques into Ethiopia hoping thereby to make Our country
capable of providing food grains not only for her own increasing population but also for the
outside world. The various agricultural schools and colleges found in the provinces have
been established with the object of giving useful training to Our people in modern methods
of fanning. When the high expectation we have of those institutions comes to be realized,
therefore, we have not the slightest doubt that Ethiopia will be able to produce sufficient
enough to provide many countries with food grains. This has been our strong belief all along.
The future of the Somali peoples living in the territories bordering on Ethiopia under the rule
of the three powers has been the object of speculation in some foreign newspapers lately.
While some appear to have grasped the problems that have to be dealt with in the future,
they often make it appear as if the only solution lies in the permanent division of these
territories which is undoubtedly detrimental to all concerned in this region. What is the view
of Your Majesty in this all-important matter?
In the years following the Second World War several attempts have been made by politically
interested parties to create situations that would arouse our anxieties concerning the
Somalis living in the territories bordering on Ethiopia. What we see from time to time
appearing in some foreign newspapers is motivated by the same policy of preserving
self-interest by creating dissention and disharmony in this area which cannot be said to be in
the interest of the peoples of the region.
Our attitude to the Somalis who belong to the same race as the Ethiopian people and share
with them a common history, has always been crystal clear, namely, that of supporting
everything conducive to their wellbeing and progress. It was in keeping with this policy that
we recently invited the leaders of United Nations Trust Somalia and had talks with them here.
our strong appeal to our Somali brothers is to be aware of those who, in the furtherance of
their self-interest, seek to plunge this area into chaos, thereby disturbing the peace that has
reigned in this part of the world for a long time. Much harm can be avoided by understanding
in time the real intentions of these self-seekers.
Even though some nations in Africa have recently acquired their independence there are yet
many who have not had that fortune. Would Your Majesty be kind enough to explain if there is
anything that Ethiopia is doing as an African country to improve the lot of these unfortunate
Realizing that the bitter struggle which these African countries are carrying on for their
freedom and independence is right and just, we have always been their strong supporters at
all international conferences.
It is our firm determination to consistently follow this policy under all circumstances.
Ethiopia's decision to take part in the deliberations of the conference of independent African
states to be held at Accra this month springs from her desire to exchange views with the other
sister African states and formulate ways and means of cooperating with each other on matters
vitally affecting our continent. We strongly believe that each nation has an inherent right to
shape its own destiny and to seek its own way to the high state of advancement which the
free nations of the world have attained.
During the Middle Ages the world had witnessed bitter wars arising among peoples on account
of religious differences. The bloodshed and many other evils created by those wars could only
be stopped after men came to the realization that peace and harmony could be found only
through tolerance and a spirit of accommodation.
There are many circles who advocate similar solutions to our present day world problems. Does
Your Majesty believe that the spirit of co-existence or accommodation, without one country
trying to impose its system and way of life on the other, would be an ideal solution to our
present-day problems and to ensure peaceful existence Possible?
Nations differing in ideologies could Jive side by side in peace unless they clash on matters
We live in all age of ideologies and world peace is too precious a thing to be disturbed merely
because of the clash of these ideologies. It is an entirely different matter though, when one
country attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of another. We believe that if all nations
make the Charter of the United Nations the basis of their international relationships, all can
live in peace and harmony in spite of their differences in ideologies.
Many people have voiced the view that to carry on a peaceful construction and at the same
time keep on building up military preparations is something that entails a great burden on the
national economy. In fact it is the earnest desire of all nations to keep their military expenditures
to the minimum while alloting most of their national budgets to peace pursuits. But in order to
realize this desire it is necessary to devise a machinery that will gurantee their security and
safety while pur. suing their peaceful vocations. There are some quarters who hold that the
United Nations is capable of providing the necessary safeguards against aggression. Does
Your Majesty believe this organization, as at present constituted, to be strong enough to
perform the great task of guaranteeing the safety and security of peaceful states?
For the United Nations Organization to guarantee peace and security in the world it must first
of all enjoy an authority proportionate to its world-wide responsibility. As we have repeatedly
emphasized on several occasions in the past, the United Nations Organization must be
provided with a strong force of its own so as to enable it to enforce its own decisions and
thereby become an effective safeguard against aggression.
Even though it is admittedly a great burden on the national economy of nations to keep up
both military and peaceful developments side by side, no nation can afford to neglect its basic
defence requirements in order to guarantee its own security.
On the other hand, the armaments race, apart from depriving nations of the wealth that could
have been used for peaceful purposes, has created great fear and anxiety among the peoples
of the world. It would indeed be in the interest of world peace if the nations of the world reach
an agreement to stop the arms race. When a general agreement is finally reached on the
question of disarmament all preparations of a military nature will gradually assume less
significance than they do at present.
There are people everywhere who hold that civilization has done more harm than good to
humanity. These people argue that even though the so called modern progress has brought
some physical comfort, it has done incalculable harm to and greatly weakened the spiritual
values regarded so highly in former times. What they call spiritual values are those things
which are usually associated with religion. In other words the great progress made in the
field of science has contributed to the weakening of the influence of religion and has
deprived man of that inner calm that he so much needs for his spiritual well-being. What is
Your Majesty's opinion on this matter?
One cannot deny that in former times man's life had been one of toil and hardship. It is
correct to say, therefore, that modern civilization and the progress of science have greatly
improved man's life and have brought comfort and ease in their trail.
But civilization can serve man both for good as well as for evil purposes. Experience shows
that it has invariably brought great dividends to those who use it for good purposes while it
has always brought incalculable harm and damnation to those who use it for evil purposes.
To make our wills obedient to good influences and to avoid evil, therefore, is to show the
greatest wisdom. In order to follow this aim one must be guided by religion. Progress without
religion is just like a life surrounded by unknown perils and can be compared to a body
without a soul.
All human inventions, from the most primitive tool to the modern atom, can help man greatly
in his peaceful endeavours. But if they are put to evil purposes they have the capacity to
wipe out the human race from the surface of the earth.
It is only when the human mind is guided by religion and morality that man can acquire the
necessary vision to put all his ingenuous inventions and contrivances to really useful and
beneficial purposes. The progress of science can be said to be harmful to religion only in so
far as it is used for evil aims and not because it claims a priority over religion in its revelation
It is important that spiritual advancement must keep pace with material advancement. When
this comes to be realized man's journey toward higher and more lasting values will show more
marked progress while the evil in him recedes into the background.
Knowing that material and spiritual progress are essential to man, we must ceaselessly work
for the equal attainment of both. Only then shall we be able to acquire that absolute inner calm
so necessary to our well-being.
It is only when a people strike an even balance between scientific progress and spiritual
and moral advancement that it can be said to possess a wholly perfect and complete
personality and not a lopsided one. The type of progress we have chalked out for Ethiopia is
based on these fundamental principles.
Apr. 5, 1948